Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

6/7/2019

PowerToys 2019

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Geek Work,MicroSoft,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Some reboots are better than others.

Sometimes, I talk about really geeky things here, mostly because I AM a geek, but also because I am a professional geek. This is one of those times.
Back in the days of Windows 95 and Windows XP, Microsoft made a whole set of little tools that fankly should have been included in the operating system to begin with. Things like TweakUI that let you change almost every aspect of the look and feel of Windows, including where some system folders resided. There were other tools, too, like things thta would let you synchronize folders and autoplay CDs and, one of my favorites, Command Prompt Here that let you open, you guessed it, a command prompt in any folder from the Windows FileManager. Those little tools sort of fell off in popularity after those versions of Windows, but hard-core users and oldsters like me still remember them fondly.
Well, according to Lifehacker, Microsoft is bringing PowerToys back! What’s more, they’re making them open source, so you’ll be able to download the source code and write your own! Of course, they don’t have TweakUI in this batch of goodies, yet, but I’m sure some enterprising, young programmer will dive into the Microsoft GitHub PowerToys repository, and figure out a way to make all our old favorites. In any case, it’s a good space to watch for new utilities that may be useful to you. And, of course, it’s free, which is why I’m sharing it with you on a Friday.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

5/27/2014

Keeping Windows XP Alive

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,MicroSoft,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,News and Current Events,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:49 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

First, let me say that I don’t endorse this as a way to avoid upgrading.

Second, let me fully affirm that this is completely awesome!  And, as someone who maintains a Windows XP virtual machine to run some older software for my camera, I am thrilled to have this option, for as long as it lasts.
The hack is pretty simple, basically just adding a small entry to the Registry.  First published by Wayne Williams at BetaNews a day ago, it’s been all over the internet today.  I did it earlier on an old machine at work and it worked great.  Your results may vary.  The steps are simple and in that linked article, but I’ve included the 32-bit version of the registry file that you can just download and import to your machine or virtual machine.

Use at your own risk!
And upgrade as soon as possible!
(Here’s the link to the REG file.)


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"In life, as in football, you don't go far unless you know where the goalposts are."
   --Arnold Glasgow

10/31/2011

The Worst Kind of Cross-Platform Porting

Filed under: Apple,Linux,News and Current Events,Rotten Apples,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:58 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Hackers are porting Linux viruses (virii ?) to OS X.

Last week Monday, ZDNet reported that hackers have ported code for a trojan from Linux to Apple’s OS X.  For those of my readers who don’t know what a trojan is I’m referring to a malicious program that opens the door for other, usually even worse, programs to come into the infected operating system, like the Greeks did in the classic stratagem known as the Trojan Horse.  It hasn’t been seen in the wild yet, but apparently the C source code for this has been available for quite some time.

Frankly, I’m surprised that this doesn’t happen more often than it does.  In the old days, virus writers had to really know something because they used assembly to create them.  Now, with Windows and all the other object-oriented programming languages filled with bloated libraries of programming calls, along with the availability of existing code on the internet, they hardly have to know anything to write fairly nasty malware.  And, as I’ve mentioned before, as Apple laptops become more popular, more malware will start to show up there.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they figure out how to infect iPads and iPhones, too, if they haven’t already.

I hate people like this.
I spent most of my day today cleaning a malware infection off a machine.  This little bugger had not only disabled the Windows Task Manager, which is pretty common these days, but it also cleaned out the Start Menu, including all the built-in things like the link to Control Panel and My Documents and all those things on the right side of the Windows XP default Start Menu.  But, it also flagged most of the drive as Hidden and System, making it even more difficult to load the software I used to clean it.  I had to go into Safe Mode just to get the system clean enough to restart into Safe Mode with Networking so I could update Malwarebytes, which is what I eventually used to get rid of the beastie.   (I used Spybot Search and Destroy to keep the malware from loading to make the machine useable with networking support so I could update Malwarebytes, incidentally.)
So, yeah, these slimeballs keep me in a job, but, really, I’d appreciate it if they stopped helping me stay employed.  I promise I can find plenty of other things to do!

So, look lively out there people!  Be suspicious of what you download and click on!

UPDATE:  Apparently, this has been found out in the wild now.  And, according to TechWorld, it has a purpose; to use your system to generate BitCoins for it’s evil masters.  Very clever.  Nasty, but, still, very clever.

7/6/2011

Updated Linux-based Disk Imaging

Filed under: Career Archive,Geek Work,Linux — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’m always looking for short-cuts.

No, seriously, there’s only one of me and my time is in HUGE demand, especially at the office.  So, I’m always looking for ways to automate stuff so I don’t have to do it myself.  Back in 2008, I cobbled together an imaging system that relied on Linux and a whole lot of personal documentation.  (You can read that, in two parts, here and here.)  It worked pretty well and I was pretty damn proud of myself for both figuring it out and saving me a whole lot of time doing each individual install of a machine.

Well, recently, we’ve started upgrading our engineers and draftsmen to the latest version of AutoCAD and Windows 7.
Naturally, Windows 7 uses disks in a totally different way than Windows XP, so all that work I did is now pretty much useless.  Which, frankly, is par for the course in our line of work.  IT is always changing, so we have to adapt, whether we like it or not.  In this case, I don’t mind so much.  Why?  Because Clonezilla pretty much does everything that I was doing by hand, only it does it almost automagically.  Just to be clear, I’m using the Clonezilla Live version and saving the images to my server.  Now that I’ve upgraded the storage capacity to a little over 4 terabytes, I’m not so worried about saving images there.  Especially because I still have most of the office convinced we only have a single terabyte of storage and that they need to keep their directories on the server lean.  It doesn’t help much, but it’s enough.

Seriously, if you have to image machines, go check out Clonezilla.  It works and, best of all, it’s FREE!
(Also?  It’s pretty damn fast on my network, which is a huge bonus!)

6/12/2008

It’s all magic to them…

Filed under: Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

My users think I’m a magician or a sorcerer.

Frankly, I’m not sure which is better.
In any case, this week I finally cleaned up the last remnants of some nastiness that one of my users got himself into. He followed a link from Google search results to what seemed like a perfectly legitimate blog. He was looking for some poetry reference in the Sex In The City movie. (Yeah, I know, I know. A big, tough oil industry service guy looking for poetry in a chick flick. Go figure!) Well, when he got to this blog, it had an embedded player with what it claimed was a clip from the movie. But, when he went to play the clip, it told him he needed to update his Flash player and provides a “helpful” link. That’s when all manner of unholiness broke loose on his computer.

Well, he got updated, all right. With spyware and virii. I lost count of how many and what kind there were. One changed his time and date format to include the text “VIRUS ALERT!!”, so that it appeared next to the time on his Taskbar. Another made his main hard drive, his “C” drive, disappear from his My Computer! And, at least one of these was the FakeAVAlert trojan, but I never did figure out which one scrambled his My Computer. The funny thing was, after running every anti-virus and spyware removal tool that I normally use, the drive was still hiding somewhere. But, he was running from that drive just fine! Well, I searched for a day or two, while doing the rest of my normal gig, but never could find why this had happened.
I did, however, find a fix. TweakUI from the Windows XP Power Toys. I loaded that on his computer then went in to it under the My Computer section and, sure enough, the local drive was shown as being hidden. I corrected that and **SHAZAM**!!
UPDATE: It occurred to me this morning, after posting, that I should let you all know how to fix the clock issue in more detail.  The setting is found in the Control Panel, under Regional Options, which is not quite intuitive.  Under Regional Options, choose Custom, then find Time and adjust the format per the screen instructions.  If you’re in Windows 2000, once Regional Options is open, choose the Time tab and adjust accordingly.

Yep, just like magic, I am.


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